A reader's response to the blog post “Open Government”: Open to Whom?:
"Excellent post! Investing in ICTs is fundamental to open and transparent governance.
I am particularly struck by the following lines, "For their part, government officials complained about the lack of recordkeeping and archiving, particularly of the digital variety. Even with the best of intentions, officials may not be able to make information available amid weak information management systems; some of the interviewees pointed out that information about existing programs goes missing, and with it lessons learned -- along with the public’s opportunity to hold agencies accountable."
I work on internal reforms using ICTs for the Bank with HRS, and a project that we delivered recently (March 2010) focused specifically on state of the art digital records management and archiving for staff HR documents and records.
The Bank as you can well imagine, swims in paper -- appointment letters, assignment memos, forms for insurance, benefits, visas, life events, so on and so forth. Such documents are confidential historical records that need to be digitally captured, stored, and archived to enable effective and efficient management of information, and to enable transparency and governance. The solution is simple and yet technically elegant -- Important paper documents can be controlled and tracked through barcodes (just as UPS controls and tracks their packages) and then paper can be captured and indexed through a variety of methods -- central scanning, faxing, emailing scanned documents, physical drop off, pouching. Paper can then be boxed and archived to the mines for retention (and disposition, almost never). Finally authorized individuals can then retrieve and view the digital records.
As you say, it is important to "help bridge the gap between open government theory and practice. First, invest in information management systems—not only in central ministries, but all the way down to provincial and district offices."
The key is just that -- bridging the gap between open government theory and practice would mean investing in ICTs with well designed business processes, and more importantly political will, funding and support for the innovative use of ICTs for governance."